I recently received a check in the mail for $750, along with a letter from Governor Polis expressing his “true pleasure” in sending me the “enclosed ‘Colorado Cashback’ refund check.” He explained this was the result of his signing, “Senate Bill 22-233, which directed the Colorado Department of Revenue (CDOR) to refund $750 to each individual resident taxpayer and $1,500 to resident joint tax filers.”
The Governor emphasized that, “At a time when inflation is causing increases in the cost of everyday items, we are committed to “getting this money to you as quickly as possible.” He failed to mention that this so-called “Colorado Cashback” is required by law under the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR), which limits government spending, requires a taxpayer vote on new taxes, and mandates refunds on tax revenues that exceed expenditures.
The only reason the Democrat-controlled legislature and the governor needed to pass Senate Bill 22-253 was to move up the TABOR-mandated refunds which, by law, would have been disbursed next April, anyway. It doesn’t take a cynic to figure out the primary motivation for doling out the money now, less than 90 days before November 8, when Polis is up for reelection along with a slew of other Democrats who are worried about an impending nationwide anti-Democrat tide and its impact on Colorado. So, “getting this money to you as quickly as possible,” is a disguised way of saying “before the election.” They’re hoping grateful voters on the receiving end of the Cashback will return the favor and pull Democrat levers in the election booth. (That’s a metaphor for filling in Democrat circles on the mail-in ballot.)
Some might regard this as a kind of bribery, which is not unprecedented. And this Cashback, at a mere $750, is buying Colorado voters off for relative peanuts. During the presidential campaign of 1972, the Democrat nominee, George McGovern, a left wing Senator from South Dakota (the Bernie Sanders of his day), promised the American public what he called a “demogrant” of $1,000 for every man, woman and child. In today’s dollars that’s about $8,000 a piece, or $32,000 for a family of four. Despite this bribery attempt, McGovern lost to the incumbent President, Richard Nixon, who had the Watergate scandal and its cover-up hanging over his head along with a nation deeply divided over the Vietnam war. Nevertheless, the election was a historic landslide, with McGovern losing 49 states. We’ll see how Coloradans respond to the Cashback.
In explaining the revenue surplus that’s funding the TABOR refunds, Polis also credits his “successful work to close special-interest tax loopholes.” “Tax loopholes” is a politically subjective term often employed by populist politicians to disallow justifiable business expenses that reduce taxable income. A good example is the tax credit passed by Congress to encourage business capital investment. That’s wise and intended fiscal policy, not a loophole.
In any case, whatever tax revenue the governor attributes to loophole-closing has been dwarfed by the massive federal subsidies showered on Colorado, and every other state, during the pandemic, compounded by the extravagant Biden/Democrat unnecessary spending binge. That’s what drove the mammoth federal deficits that brought on the current inflation wave Polis laments in his letter.
A bi-partisan act passed by Congress in 1972 created a “General Revenue Sharing” program. It was extended in 1975 and still lives on, if not by that name. This authorizes the federal government to dole out money to the states for local purposes. There’s merit in devolving government to levels closer to the people. But when federal spending already exceeds revenues, Congress is dispensing largesse to the states with money it doesn’t have. So, it borrows money from the Federal Reserve Bank or other buyers of government bonds, piling it on top of the national debt.
In 1972 and ever since, annual federal deficits have been the norm with very rare exceptions. “Revenue sharing” is a misnomer, it should be called “deficit sharing.” And it inevitably leads to inflation when money and credit is expanded in this way rather than as the product of actual economic output. Ironically, your $750 Cashback is rooted in the current surge of federal deficits and, by not being derived from economic output, effectively localizes inflation driven by federal borrowing.
I hope most Coloradans are aware of TABOR’s history and can see through the Democrats’ hypocrisy in deceitfully exploiting TABOR in this Cashback ploy. For the enlightenment of newcomers, TABOR was passed directly by the voters as a ballot question amending the state Constitution. Democrats opposed TABOR at the time, still do, have tried unsuccessfully to kill it, and habitually circumvent it with legislation falsely labeling new taxes as “fees.” Be thankful for TABOR, it’s your barrier to unlimited government spending.
Longtime KOA radio talk host and columnist for the Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News Mike Rosen now writes for CompleteColorado.com.
Our unofficial motto at Complete Colorado is “Always free, never fake, ” but annoyingly enough, our reporters, columnists and staff all want to be paid in actual US dollars rather than our preferred currency of pats on the back and a muttered kind word. Fact is that there’s an entire staff working every day to bring you the most timely and relevant political news (updated twice daily) from around the state on Complete’s main page aggregator, as well as top-notch original reporting and commentary on Page Two.
CLICK HERE TO LADLE A LITTLE GRAVY ON THE CREW AT COMPLETE COLORADO. You’ll be giving to the Independence Institute, the not-for-profit publisher of Complete Colorado, which makes your donation tax deductible. But rest assured that your giving will go specifically to the Complete Colorado news operation. Thanks for being a Complete Colorado reader, keep coming back.